Orioles 7 at Blue Jays 3
Another fun Yusei Kikuchi start. Fun in the sense that “fun” it starts with the same two letters as a much more apt adjective, but that’s about as close as I can get without trouble. Anyway, another ugly loss for the Jays to the Orioles that taxed the bullpen, and for good measure just dragged on, well over two hours for the first five excruciating innings before mercifully speeding up. The dog days of August, truly and indeed.
As is too often the case, Kikuchi got off to an uneven start with a lengthy 23 pitch first inning, though was somewhat snakebitten to have given up a run. He jammed Ryan McKenna on an 0-2 count leading off, but the glorified popup fell down the right field line just past Vladdy. A batter later Anthony Santander plated him on a single up the middle, and then came the patented nine walk to Ryan Mountcastle.
Though with about 45 minutes of hindsight, that probably wasn’t the worst thing. Kikuchi got the next two to end the inning with no further damage. The Jays threatened in the second after Bo Bichette worked a long walk of his own off Kyle Bradish followed by Matt Chapman dripped a ball to left to put runners on the corners with one out, but the bottom the order couldn’t push the tying run across.
Kikuchi got the first two batters of the third easily, but couldn’t finish off Anthony Santander at 2-2 and walked him. Either Buck or Dan noted at 3-2 you didn’t want to do that with Jay-killer Mountcastle on deck. It took exactly one pitch for that to prove prophetic, as Kikuchi left a fastball belt-high on the inside corner and Mountcastle turned on it and obliterated it to the second level for the 3-0 Orioles lead.
The Jays struck back for those two runs in the bottom of the inning, but left money on the table in not getting even more. Walks to Danny Jansen and Vladdy were sandwiched around Geroge Springer doubling down the third base line to load the bases with none out. Lourdes Gurriel lined a single to extend the rally and plate the lead two, but just like Pickett’s Charge it proved to be a highwater mark that quickly receded. Teoscar Hernandez followed with a strikeout and Bo Bichette finished killing the rally with a routine GIDP.
Then things unraveled on the 4th, as much for the team as for Kikuchi specifically. It started innocuously enough, with a strikeout and pretty routine ground ball. But Bichette mishandled it, seemingly taking his recent struggles at the plate to the field as happened at the end of April. Kikuchi took it from there, issuing another walk and then throwing away a pickoff throw to advance the runners.
The Jays pulled the infield in to try and cut down another run, but Tyler Nevin smashed a gliner that Bichette was lucky to snare on the short hop (I initially thought he caught on the fly), but couldn’t get the ball home in time. McKenna bookended Kikuchi’s night with a other double, this time a legit smash to centre to chase Kikuchi at 5-2. He didn’t get any favours, but 3.1 innings, 4 hits, 3 walks and 3 strikeouts is pretty much par for the course/usual mess.
Moving into TL;DR mode (or more accurately Don’t Want to Write More; is TL;DWtWM a thing?), Trevor Richards worked a messy and inefficient seven batters, allowing two sac flys (the first inherited, the second his own). Trent Thornton, Zach Pop, and Adam Cimber followed, each working around some runners to keep the Orioles off the board relatively expeditiously.
The Jays staged a brief rally in the bottom of the 5th, with Vladimir Guerrero knocking a high solo shot followed by singled from Gurriel and Bichette to chase Bradish. Chapman popped popped out on the first pitch from old friend Bryan Baker. They went down in order the next three innings until another little something in the 9th was snuffed out by Vladdy hitting into a double play to end it.
So it goes.
Jays of the Day: Springer (+0.130 WPA) and Gurriel (+0.111), both with two hits.
Suckage: Kikuchi (-0.400), Bichette (-0.110, plus the error), Teoscar (-0.129). And one to the MLB schedulers for further unbalancing an already too unbalanced schedule so the Jays get a bunch against the Orioles after they not only are good but red hot. I’m already over these types of games against them.
Tomorrow, the Jays will look to even the series with Alek Manoah taking on Dean Kremer at the same 7:05 EDT start time. On the plus side, it can’t possibly be worse than tonight....right?